Mark Bernhardt
11-02-1957 - 04-30-2020
Country: United States | State: Kansas | City: Lawrence

Mark Bernhardt passed away at home on Thursday, April 30, 2020.


Mark was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday, November 2, 1957, to George W. and Mary Kay Bernhardt. Mark was the son of an Assistant Football Coach at the University of Arkansas and the University of Kansas.

Mark moved with his family to Lawrence, Kansas, when he was three months old. After living in Lawrence for nine years, his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where his father coached at Vanderbilt. Mark attended Hillwood High School and often referred to his four years in Nashville as his “formative years.” The family moved back to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1971. Mark attended Lawrence High School, where he took Calculus at 7am in period zero, played quarterback and wide receiver on the football team under Bill Freeman, and was state champion in wrestling his senior year in the 145-pound weight class! He earned the Citizen Award his senior year, which made his parents prouder than his academic or athletic achievements. Mark was inducted into the Lawrence Lions Alumni Association Hall of Honor in 2014.

After graduating from Lawrence High School in 1975, Mark studied at the University of Kansas, majoring in Biology and working summers at Penny’s Construction Company. He was president of the Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity his senior year. After graduating from KU in 1979, Mark attended the KU School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kansas, graduating in May 1983.

One night in January of 1981, Mark met his bride, Renee Stewart. Renee proposed to him on the night they met. They married June 4, 1983 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Mark and Renee moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he completed his Orthopaedic Surgery residency at the University of Kansas-Wichita program in 1988. The young couple then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where Mark completed a fellowship in spine surgery at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School. After his fellowship, Mark was honored to be invited to the faculty of Harvard during his mentor’s sabbatical. Mark and Renee moved home to Kansas City after the birth of their first daughter Grace in 1989. Three years later in 1992, they welcomed their second daughter Hillary to Kansas City, where Mark lived the rest of his life with his family.

Mark joined Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedic Clinic and the medical staffs of St. Luke’s Hospital, Truman Medical Center, and Children’s Mercy Hospital in 1990. In 1998, Mark helped found the Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute in Leawood, Kansas. Dr. Bernhardt was a clinical professor at UMKC School of Medicine, teaching medical students and residents at participating institutions. In 2012, he became the Rex L. Diveley, M.D. Professor and Chairman of the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery at UMKC and Truman Medical Center, where he served until his passing. In 2019, he was elected as Chair of the University Health Physicians board of directors. He was elected to the prestigious American Orthopaedic Association, a national organization of orthopaedic educators and chairmen.

Mark exuded passion for teaching and medicine every day of his life. He has passed down his knowledge to hundreds of orthopaedists. Coaching his residents on life, Mark would ask them, “Are you in it for love or money?” Mark believed in “getting your elbows dirty” and not being above doing the grunt work. Even as Chairman, he led by example, eagerly working each day ‘in the trenches’ with his team.

In his free time, Mark enjoyed spending time with his family, listening to Dean Martin songs, reading history books, cooking Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun recipes, playing tennis with his friends, recording his daily activities in his phone journal, traveling the world with Renee, and watching KU football and basketball. During KU basketball season, it was not uncommon to see Mark listening to KU basketball commentary on the radio, watching KU basketball on the TV, and reading the sport stats during commercial breaks. A good weekend for Mark was “The Trifecta”: A K-State loss, a Mizzou loss, and a Jayhawks win.

Mark had two priorities in his life: first, his deep love for his family, and second, his passion for medicine, teaching, and patient care. Mark cherished the time he spent with his wife, daughters, sister, brother, in-laws, and extended family. He made it a routine to call up the people he loved and catch up, even if only for a few minutes. Mark will be remembered for his booming voice, his infectious joy, his playful sense of humor, his curiosity, his strong work ethic, his thoughtfulness for others, and the love he shared for the people surrounding him. He will also be remembered for being a decent, humane, and upstanding person throughout his entire life.

Mark is survived by his wife of 36 years, Renee, and his children, Grace and Hillary.

He is also survived by his sister Judy Kish (Bernie), her two children Keri and Kathryn (Jon); his brother Tom Bernhardt (Kelly), his three children Meghan (Brent),  David (Allyssa), and Michael; his brother-in-law Ron Stewart, his son Chris (Amy); and his sister-in-law Michele Stewart (James Westberg).

A celebration of Mark’s life will be held at a later date.

For more information or to leave comments, condolences, or to sign online guest books, visit the funeral director's website or social media pages using the links found here: Johnson County Funeral Chapel